7 November 2012

Gambia: Gamtel Ownership Unclear As 2011 Losses Stood At 85 Million Dalasi

The DT Associates, external auditors in the report submitted to the joint session of the Public Accounts and Enterprises Committees PAC/PEC of the National Assembly yesterday revealed that the current ownership of The Gambia Telecommunications Company Limited (Gamtel) supposedly a state owned company cannot be traced with legal documents.

"The current ownership of the company cannot be traced to any legal documentation", Chilel Camara Jawara of the DT Associates.

Camara Jawara revealed that the company's memorandum and articles is not updated with the Registrar of companies to reflect its current ownership structure. She further revealed that the business registration of the company could not be verified. She also referred to threatening implications which might affect the company.

The young auditor explained that the inconsistencies between the status of the company and its legal documents could lead to potential penalties. She asserted that in case of legal dispute, the position of the company would be difficult. She further asserted that complications could also arise in the process of paying dividends when the ownership of shares is not regulated.

"It is a legal requirement to maintain an updated register of stakeholders, directors and secretaries and copies of share certificate for inspection", she recommended.

The management responds that the observations and comments are noted and would engage the relevant stakeholders in addressing the matter. They promised that the responsibility would be taken by the management and board of the company.

"The greatest challenge facing us is the aging networking infrastructure", asserted Mr. Bubacarr Sanyang, the Managing Director of Gamtel.

MD Sanyang revealed that the company was established by an Act of parliament in 1984. He revealed that the company is a public enterprise institution mandated to provide efficient and affordable telecommunications services to the nation. He further revealed that the company has employed more than a thousand employees.

The Gamtel Managing Director asserted that the company is a bedrock institution of communication for government institutions and the business communities. He mentioned the introduction of a design system called the 'Next Generation Network'.

However, the financial statements revealed that the company suffered a loss of D85 million dalasi for the year 2011. The financial performance report indicates total revenue of D1.450 billion dalasi. The balance sheet showed total non current assets of D1.120 billion dalasi for tangible assets of investments. It also indicated a sum of D53 million dalasi as a tax liability.

"There has been a decrease in tangible fixed asset of D103 million representing increases in depreciation charged for the year", the report indicated.

According to the representative of the Gambia Public Procurement Agency (GPPA) the company is fully compliant with the GPPA regulations.

Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the Majority leader commended the company for fully complying with the regulations. He urged the members to look into the challenges facing the company to help its transformation which he said cannot be done without capital investment.

"The account reported to us today is not pleasant", asserted Hon. Lamin K Jammeh, member for Illiasa.

The honourable member for Illiasa asserted that the predicament of the company is not caused by the current management. He mentioned a number of concerns about the increment on the administrative allowances.

The member for Sandu, Hon. Abdoulie Jawla, also questioned the amount of money involved in the 'air space' project for the rural communities.

Meanwhile, the management and board of the company have tried in earnest to answer all the questions referred to them. Subsequently, the Assembly adopted the report of the company for the year 2011. The session was adjourned till today Wednesday 7th 2012.

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